McConnell: Border tax 'probably wouldn't pass the Senate'

McConnell: Border tax 'probably wouldn't pass the Senate'
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate passes 0B defense bill Overnight Health Care: New GOP ObamaCare repeal bill gains momentum Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanRyan: Graham-Cassidy 'best, last chance' to repeal ObamaCare Ryan: Americans want to see Trump talking with Dem leaders Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE's (R-Wis.) border-adjustment proposal to tax imports "probably wouldn't pass the Senate."

In an interview with Bloomberg TV, McConnell said that he is meeting with Ryan and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in the hopes of reaching an agreement on a tax-reform proposal. 

"Border adjustability is a pretty controversial thing in the Senate, but we'll see what's in the final thing we agree to," McConnell said.

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McConnell's comments echo other senators' remarks about the border-adjustment proposal, which would subject imports to U.S. taxes while exempting exports. Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTop Louisiana health official rips Cassidy over ObamaCare repeal bill Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE (R-S.C.) said earlier this year that the House plan wouldn't get 10 votes in the Senate.

Even among House Republicans, the proposal may be a tough sell. An analysis from The Hill has found that there are dozens of House GOP lawmakers who have concerns about the border-adjustment tax or are undecided about it.

The border-adjustment proposal was part of a tax plan House Republicans released last year, and supporters argue that it would remove incentives for companies to move jobs overseas. But critics argue that it would result in higher prices for goods that consumers purchase. 

Mnuchin has said that the White House doesn't think the proposal works "in its current form" but is discussing potential revisions with lawmakers. Ryan, meanwhile, continues to defend border adjustability while acknowledging that revisions are being made to the proposal.

McConnell also said Tuesday that tax reform shouldn't add to the deficit. House GOP leaders have also said that they want to pursue revenue-neutral tax reform, but other GOP lawmakers have said that they would prefer or would be open to a net tax cut.

"We added an enormous amount of debt during the Obama years, so we'll have to be revenue neutral," McConnell said.

The majority leader said he didn't want to put a "strict timeline" on tax reform but said "we certainly want to try to complete it this Congress and make America more competitive."